23 June 2015

Minister announces boost for aerospace sector

Business minister Anna Soubry has opened new research facilities in Coventry and announced new technology projects in a bid to keep the UK a world leader in aerospace.

The projects, jointly funded by industry and government, include work to develop 'slippery wings' and boost productivity. Soubry announced them while opening the Aerospace Research Centre and National Centre for Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing.

She also announced the launch of a new £10 million competition to find game-changing aerospace technologies aimed at small firms. This will open for bids next week and is being run by Innovate UK.

Speaking at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, where the two new facilities are based, the Minister said: "Government and industry are working together to keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market. We are currently second only to the United States, but there is more to do and it is important that we continue to invest in R&D and develop ground-breaking technologies.

"Demand for new aircraft is at record levels – around 45,000 new aircraft and 40,000 helicopters are needed between now and 2032, worth over $5trillion. This will provide billions of pounds of work to the UK economy given our leading capability in wings, engines, helicopters, advanced systems and services.

"Getting this right will deliver economic benefit through our large, mid-sized and small companies across the breadth of the country."

The four projects she announced will receive funding from the joint Government / industry £2.1 billion commitment for aerospace R&D, guided by the Aerospace Technology Institute. They are:

  • £7.2 million for Airbus to research ways to remove imperfections on wing surfaces which cause drag.
  • £5m for five partners, led by Meggitt, to research how technologies, such as the Internet of Things, can be applied to aircraft factory production.
  • £6.4m for Spirit AeroSystems, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Aeromet to research advanced automated assembly technologies – a factory of the future - to improve the cost competitiveness of the UK supply chain.
  • £4.4m to support UTC Aerospace Systems, working with the AMRC, to set up production lines to manufacture high volume, low cost advanced composite products.

Ian Vallely

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